The decline of honeybee and native bee populations has been widely reported in the press, and a number of factors have been attributed to the decline, such as mites, disease, and stress. Now air pollution has been added to the list of possible causes.
Researchers at the University of Virginia found that air pollution from power plants and automobiles is destroying flower fragrance and making it harder for bees to find flowers when foraging. The result is that bees visit fewer flowers and gather less nectar. Researchers found that scent molecules could travel up to 1200 meters in the 1800s. However, with pollution, today's scent molecules travel only 200 meters. When the scent molecules bind with common pollutants, such as ozone, hydroxyl, and nitrate radicals, the flower's aroma gets destroyed. The bees can't find the flowers so they go hungry and the flowers don't get pollinated.
For more information on this research, go to: University of Virginia Today.
Article published on May 20, 2008.